Sales Best Practices for Professional Services Companies

Highlights

  • Evidence-based best practices show how to grow customer acquisitions most effectively. They shift unsupported ideas that lack measurable execution to prescriptive guidance that achieves forecasted results. Industry research and evidence-based best practices take the guesswork out of growing customer acquisitions.
  • Three best practices to increase customer acquisitions are a services sale methodology, salesforce automation software and revenue engineering.
  • A services sale methodology is a prescriptive but dynamic framework of sales strategies, tactics and responses that aid the buyer in completing their purchase decision, systemically and predictably advance the sales cycle, and maximize the sellers win rate.
  • Salesforce automation software brings process automation, information reporting and scale to sales execution. Research shows the most effective sales software focuses first on user benefits such as staff productivity and performance goals.
  • Revenue Engineering depicts the company's revenue progression in a Lead-to-Revenue sales funnel. The funnel shows the sales stages, conversions and velocity for all leads as they traverse the sales cycle. It displays real-time revenue visibility and date-based predictability. And it permits What-If analysis, pro forma modeling or the manipulation of leads with sales and marketing programs to improve and accelerate customer acquisitions.
Johnny Grow Revenue Growth Consulting

Sales recommendations without supporting data are just somebody's opinion.

A better approach is to apply evidence-based best practices that are validated by field research, implemented with a prescriptive framework, measured with purpose-built analytics and fully leverage technology automation.

Professional services sales best practices are prescriptive recommendations that save time, increase focus, lower risk and show the most direct route to year over year revenue growth, revenue plan attainment, salesforce quota attainment and improving the sales team opportunity win rate.

This post shares several practices to increase customer acquisitions.

Professional Services Best Practices to Grow Customer Acquisitions

There is no single method to grow customer acquisitions. But there are professional services sales best practices that maximize lead to revenue conversions and top line revenue growth. Here are some of those lessons.

Professional Services Best Practices
1

Start with a Services Selling Methodology

A services sale methodology is especially helpful to service sellers who sell an intangible solution, operate in a team selling environment and must satisfy a buying committee of members with diverse interests.

A sale methodology changes the focus from what you sell to how you sell. It advises the methods or techniques to advance prospects within each step of the sales process. For example, it defines the investigative questions to qualify a lead, the path to align buyer pain with service benefits, the strategy to create an effective win plan, the negotiation methods to preserve revenue, the incentives to get the deal closed and many other tactics to win competitive deals.

To achieve repeatable and predictable sales success, the framework must promote specific principals and methods that:

  • Show how to solve buyer problems with customer insights, unique perspectives and points of view (POV)
  • Show how to navigate the customers' buy cycle and lead to a predictable outcome
  • Deliver the right action, content, recommendation or response to the right buyer role at the right time
  • Identify roles and responsibilities for team selling coordination and effectiveness
  • Seamlessly integrate with a multiple step sales process
  • Use CRM software technology to achieve automation, reporting and scale
  • Convert customer and sales cycle data to insights to support guided selling and deliver contextual next-best-action recommendations
  • Apply metrics to measure progress and quickly identify variances or red flags that need swift remediation
  • Use analytics and closed loop reporting to deliver real-time alerts, predictive analytics and sales coaching opportunities
  • Use a knowledgebase to store post-sales results and analysis so lessons learned can be delivered to similar future sale opportunities

Sales performance research findings published in the Sales Excellence Report revealed that sellers with optimized sale methodologies achieved an 11% higher sales win rate than those with informal sales methods.

The research also found that sales success is further bolstered when a sale methodology is integrated with a structured sales process and CRM software. These three components create the sales trifecta and increase sales win rates 6% above sale methodologies alone.

The Sales Trifecta
2

Apply Salesforce Automation Software

Services sellers pursue multiple complex sale opportunities in parallel over extended periods. Sales technology can help manage those pursuits.

Sales software research found that Sales Force Automation (SFA) software, often called a Sales Cloud, was scored as the most effective sales software application by salespeople.

Top 5 Sales Technologies

However, when the data was filtered by sales performance archetype it surfaced some unexpected results. Most Salesforce Automation and sales cloud applications were rated as both effective and ineffective by large numbers of sellers.

When correlating the data with other factors such as respondents that identified applying sales or technology strategies, it became clear that the technology effectiveness was less about the technology and more about how it was designed, implemented and measured.

The research surfaced three factors that help explain why some salesforces make incredible gains with technology while others struggle.

  1. The data showed that the top performers applied a documented technology strategy to plan, procure and benefit from their sales software applications 4.5 times more often than their lower performing peers. When the data correlated respondents that applied a technology strategy with user adoption and investment data, it revealed that those with tech strategies achieved 30% higher user adoption and 6% lower total cost of ownership (TCO), on average, when compared to those that didn't.
  2. The data also found that resourcing impacted technology effectiveness. 84% of the Best-in-Class cohort invested in dedicated sales resources to manage their sales technologies. That was 2.58 times more often than the combined group of Medians and Laggards.
  3. And finally, the data reinforced the adage that you cannot manage what you cannot measure. While only 19% of all respondents consistently measured the ROI for their sales software investments, a whopping 68% of that cohort were Best-in-Class sales leaders. That's a 4.6 times difference between the top performers and their lower performing peers.

The data-driven insights are clear.

CRM or SFA software designed as little more than an opportunity management system will deliver little more than a sales forecast report. That doesn't help sellers be more productive or close more deals.

However, when SFA software was designed pursuant to a strategy that sought out specific sales goals, such as improving seller productivity and win rates by applying buyer insights, guided selling, integrated sale methodologies, automated sales processes, sales win plans, strategic account management, sales coaching or one of many other technology-enabled capabilities, the application empowered the seller to be more successful.

When sales software is acquired pursuant to a strategy that aligns technology with sales objectives, and is integrated with the professional services technology stack, it creates a competitive advantage as it defines how technologies will be used to acquire, grow and retain more customers.

3

Make Revenue Results Deterministic with Revenue Engineering

Many service companies don't know what actions or programs will drive the biggest revenue impact, so they guess or hypothesize and generally focus on one area at a time, hoping it's the most effective area. It's usually not.

Research shows the Best-in-Class service companies use revenue engineering to plot the most effective route to increased revenues. In fact, they do it 4.1 times more frequently than the combined average of Medians and Laggards.

Here's how they do it.

Revenue engineering applies a dynamic revenue model that measures the Lead-to-Revenue progression. The model is displayed as a sales conversion funnel that shows each sales stage, the volume of leads or opportunities in each stage, and the conversion and duration metrics between stages.

Lead Requirements Planning

It shows how and how many leads traverse from the top of the funnel to the bottom and permits interactive modeling to visualize how different sales or marketing programs will impact lead conversions and sales cycle velocity.

The model brings visibility, predictability, and deterministic engineering to revenue generation.

When the lead to revenue funnel is applied in reverse (i.e., turned upside down) it can start with a slated revenue projection and then show exactly how many leads need to go into the top of the funnel to achieve that revenue target.

Because you know your lead-to-revenue conversion rate and velocity, you know exactly what must go into the top of the funnel to get the desired revenue out the bottom of the funnel by a specified date.

Since the model calculates the sales stage conversions and durations of leads and opportunities pursuant to many variables (i.e., customer type, opportunity type, salesperson, region, line of business, product) it can identify stalled leads, illustrate the factors that impede or accelerate lead progress, and show the levers that will improve or optimize funnel throughput and top line revenue growth.

Services sales cycles are longer than most other industries. So, bringing visibility and applying levers to improve sale opportunities in the funnel will increase sales win rates, customer acquisitions and top line revenue growth.

See the sales best practices used by professional services companies to acquire more customers more effectively.

Click to Tweet

The Point is This

A services sale methodology, salesforce automation technology and revenue engineering are three of many evidence-based best practices that can be applied to increase customer acquisitions.

Other best practices may include predictable sales processes, sales playbooks, sales win plans, AI-fused guided selling recommendations, strategic pricing, white space mapping, sales and marketing alignment, sales coaching, sales enablement technologies, and sales technology stacks to name only a few.

The most helpful best practices for any given services company will depend upon the company's baseline performance and target goals, and be validated and forecasted with a predictive analytics model.

The point is that evidence-based best practices show how to achieve the salesforce's biggest objectives, such as acquiring more customers more effectively. They provide prescriptive guidance to forecasted results and share lessons that save time, reduce investment and minimize risk.